Etiquette Corner: The Marriage Plot

By: Erin Newkirk

Dear Erin,

I have been with my boyfriend for quite a long time, and have been best friends with him well before that. Everyone I know (including complete strangers) harass me about getting married. I am perfectly happy with where we are for many reasons and feel it's rude that some people consistently probe for answers they often don't deserve. What is a polite way to answer that question? 

Help!

Another Erin


Dear Another Erin :)

First of all, brava to you for doing what is in your hearts vs. what is expected by society. My husband and I dated for nearly 7 years before we tied the knot {!} and though I always knew he was the one, I am so glad we waited. 

For some bizarre reason, questions around marriage {and babies!} have been viewed as semi-public domain since the beginning of time. As those of us who are enlightened and/or have been through this sort of questioning know, family planning is nobody else's business. So, have confidence in a friendly smile, direct eye contact {this is KEY!}, a deep breath, and a brief, firm answer. 

Actually, the reason you sent me is also the *perfect* response! "Perhaps someday, but for right now, we are very, very happy with where we are at." Nothing more, nothing less. If you are probed beyond that and/or your well intentioned askee feels the need to share with you why they  are blissfully happy with their stage of life and you should join them, just smile, nod, and subtly keep the focus on them by saying things like "that's wonderful" and "I'm so happy for you." Unless the probing is coming from your mother, realize their need to probe is probably not really about you...it's more about justifying their choices {that they might be doubting, by the way!} and/or tooting their own horn. So, just steady your breathing, maintain a polite smile, and realize nobody can make you answer a question...so if it gets too intense, just change the subject. The phrase "In other news..." or "Speaking of which..." are always pointed, yet breezy transitions.

And for what it's worth, 20 years later and counting...I wouldn't have done it any other way.

xoxo


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(photo: Peggy Porschen Patisserie)